It's not been a great few months here at The Treehouse, for various reasons, and things seem to be sliding from bad to worse. Fortunately we have weathered worse times and we know that we will eventually bob back up again - we are just bracing ourselves for the storm. My usual take on hard times is to keep hold of the proverb "this too shall pass", be grateful for what I have got and make sure that I get plenty of exercise in the great outdoors. Another anti-depression measure is taking comfort in the past - my family history provides great lessons in overcoming adversity and my hardships pale into insignificance when compared to some of the circumstances endured by my ancestors. Here are some lessons learnt.
Financial worries: with one exception, all branches of my family went through periods of financial hardship. The Warrens left their small North Devon market town when the wool industry collapsed and found themselves in the slums of Bristol. Despite the major change to his life, John Warren adapted and prospered. Similarly, the Masons were forced to leave rural Ireland due to the potato famine and for several years endured a cramped existence in a couple of rooms near the Liverpool docks.
Physical hardship: I thank the Lord that I am not a Victorian wife. With one exception, all my great-grandmothers lost at least one baby, and most were producing a baby every couple of years throughout their lives. It wasn't only the women of course, the men worked hard too. My great-great grandfather Frederick Hawkins ended his days in the workhouse after losing his sight and so losing his livelihood as a mason.
Human tragedy: The loss of your children is the hardest blow to suffer and as mentioned, most of my great-grandparents endured these losses. But perhaps even worse is the loss suffered in the event of war - worry beyond endurance, the strain of waiting for news, highs and lows of hope, and the final crushing blow delivered by telegram - my great-grandparents Harry and Ellen Brown received three telegrams, I shall never be so unfortunate.
My life may feel hard at the moment, but put in the context of my ancestors, I am lucky beyond belief. It's a lesson I don't forget.
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